Geoff Geis

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Echo Chamber – coming this summer!

Okay, so I’m writing for LA Record again!

conradjoetext96hdark12aI actually quit on my own volition. My column, “Heart of Darkness,” was supposed to be all about my adventures going to underground shows on the East Side. And maybe I did a pretty good job at first, but eventually it became a chore because I burned out on going to shows and stopped being a legitimate representative of the scene I was supposed to represent…

I’m in a different place now, and I’m glad. And so the next print edition of the magazine will include my first column in a while.

I’m really excited about the subject matter of this one: a collaborative art space called Echo Chamber in the former Echo Curio spot on 1519 Sunset Blvd. It taps into history, but it also promises the future. Curators Sarah Cisco and Rhea Tepp have been putting a ton of effort into doing something aimed at expanding our ideas about what communal arts spaces can be.

Screen Shot 2014-06-29 at 11.30.50 AMI was going to post my column here today in order to help them on Kickstarter — but they’ve actually already achieved their goal! So I’ll save my column for the magazine, which should be available all over town in the next couple of weeks. I know I’m excited.

But even though they’ve already reached their own goal, Echo Chamber has pledged to donate the first $400 they receive over their goal to helping out other community spaces: the Smell, Pehrspace, LA Fort, and HM 157. So go and support not just Echo Chamber but the greater DIY/DIT community by donating on Kickstarter. Join the club!

Screen Shot 2014-06-29 at 11.31.01 AMHere’s a bit of the interview that I did with Rhea to prepare the article. Much of this didn’t make it into the actual column because I had to focus on all the rad events that are coming up! In the following passage, Rhea expounds upon the nature of DIY/DIT spaces and her motivation for putting together projects like this.

The first event is July 3, by the way. You should RSVP on Facebook.

Here’s Rhea:

“There is a sense of urgency within the DIY/DIT community that both empowers its existence and makes it quite vulnerable. For those who choose to create the spaces for individuals to express freely, operating these venues is their art.

I certainly consider organizing Zine Fest and Echo Chamber a facet of what makes me an artist. I find a lot more freedom available as a performer in a space than I do as the space creator. If I use a curse word while performing, the FCC isn’t going to be sitting in the audience waiting to tell me I can no longer share my art with the public. It terrifies me to imagine that as an actual reality, but in a sense, that’s the type of restriction that artists who open independent creative spaces are facing.

Those who want to open a creative space with artistic intentions first and foremost, and business intentions second, third or perhaps not at all, are incredibly restricted in their ability to do so.

There is also a disconnect between artists and our local government, so often the resources feel inaccessible that would allow for an artist who is not also a business person to create that space. It can be difficult as an artist in Los Angeles to know if our local government values independent artistic communities. A number of local venues have been shut down over the years (Echo Curio, Church on York), close out of fear, or reevaluate their initial mission in order to operate.

One space that definitely stands out as one that has had to reevaluate its purpose for the community is the L.A Fort. The space has been open for a year and a half and began with a focus on live music. After being unable to continue hosting shows, the space is now a membership-run collective of individual studios.

I want to create a temporary environment for collaborations between all types of artists, face-to-face. I value the connections I make with people at a live music show, but those moments are often lacking the environment to create and share ideas together. An event like L.A. Zine Fest certainly revealed to me that the desire for these connections exists and is incredibly powerful right now within this culture.

I want people to put down their smart phones for a moment and be open to making a zine beside someone, or maybe even with them. I want people to share stories of what the creative process is like and take time to connect through these experiences.

Check out the next issue of LA Record for more…

Filed under: Art, Events, geoff geis, Human Interest, music, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Letter to my city councilman

Today, LA Weekly published an article about the myriad difficulties facing independent arts and music spaces in Los Angeles’ East Side. Reading the article made me angry again about the 2010 closing of Echo Curio and scared anew about the future of spaces like Pehr.

We did just elect a new city councilman, though. Thus, now is a great time for those of us who care about these venues to express ourselves. Mitch O’Farrell, the new councilman, campaigned on his knowledge of the district and his engagement with the citizens therein – so we have every reason to believe that he’ll listen to us.

As the LA Weekly article suggests, there are several people making a concerted effort to destroy what we want to protect. Certainly, these folks are making their cases to the councilman-elect. We should also make our case to him, so that he doesn’t see it as a one-sided issue.

So, if you care about independent art and music in LA, I hope that you’ll take some time to tell Mitch O’Farrell that you do. His campaign email address was Mitch@MitchforCityCouncil.org, but since the campaign is over I decided to send a message to his Facebook account. I’m really not sure what the best method is.

This is the letter I wrote:

——–

Hi Mr. O’Farrell:

Congratulations on becoming the next city councilman for District 13. I supported your election and I’m not only happy that you won but that you did so with grassroots support against a well-financed machine candidate, John Choi. That’s awesome.

Now that you’ve been elected, I’d like to draw your attention to an article in LA Weekly about the difficulties faced by independent arts and music spaces that operate in District 13. While I understand that there are legitimate concerns from both residents and club owners in Echo Park, onerous fees and aggressive legal tactics have had a deleterious effect on the creative capital of a region that is known and admired for its creative capital.

As a long term participant in the venues here, I can attest to the positive impact of spaces like Echo Curio, Pehrspace, Sancho and the Echo Country Outpost which have unique value as magnets for the types of thinkers and artists who make Echo Park such a vibrant, desirable communities. The Echo is certainly expert at making money and drawing big acts like the Rolling Stones, but part of the reason it’s so successful is that the ground here is so fertile. The artists, musicians, curators and promoters that make the independent scene work are responsible for that fertility, and many of them will use the lessons they’ve learned and connections they’ve made to create profitable creative ventures (many of them, ironically, hosted or produced by people like Mitchell Frank) in the near future.

So, as you look at this issue, I sincerely hope that you take take both sides into consideration. Surely there are things that can be done to create a strong and legal balance that takes everyone’s concerns into account and keeps our creative culture vibrant! I don’t presume to have a specific solution, but I sincerely urge you to work for one.

Thank you,

Geoff Geis, Glassell Park 

Filed under: Art, Human Interest, , , , ,

Call me maybe

Kyle Mabson, my roommate, just made his second compilation featuring interpretations of a single current hit. Last time it was Gotye’s “Somebody that I Used to Know,” and this time it’s Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe.” Two number one hits. Two sick jams.

This is what I made for “Call Me Maybe.” I based my interpretation off of a cover by an 11 year old on Youtube. I knew that a lot of kids use youtube this way, but I was kind of mortified when I actually went searching for one to use for this video. Maybe parents should monitor their kids’ Internet usage more. I’m glad this technology didn’t exist when I was a pre-teen.

I call my version “Mom’s Medicine Cabinet REMIX.”

Listen to the entire compilation here. It’s got sick tracks from Maston, Dan Deacon, Fudge Dredd, Sean Carnage, Your Mom/Your Dad, 333 Boyz… the list continues. It’s 43 tracks and about 2 1/2 hours long, so go crazy.

Filed under: Art, geoff geis, mp3, Video, , ,

Grammar and Mechanics

The guy who wrote this was completely oblivious to its irony. I’m not even exaggerating for the sake of humor.

Filed under: Art, ,

FAST RAM, or “Ram” on 45, part 2


Download the mp3 – Paul and Linda McCartney: “Ram” on 45, Side B

A couple of weeks ago, I posted an mp3 of Paul and Linda McCartney’s Ram at 45, rather than 33.3, rpm. You can click here to download that track and to read the story behind it.

The reaction to the posting was pretty positive; a few people told me that Ram was one of their favorite records and that hearing it on 45 brought new life to an old friend. Others told me that they hated the original Ram but liked this. Others complained that Paul wasn’t as “serious” as John, told me they were the walrus, and cursed. Still others had no opinion whatsoever.

Someone  sent a “tweet” to Big Whup, linking us to this interesting article about the creation of the record.

Anyway- here’s side B. Have fun!

Paul and I have something in common- a love of HP Sauce.

Download the mp3 – Paul and Linda McCartney: “Ram” on 45, Side B

Download the mp3 – Paul and Linda McCartney: “Ram” on 45, Side A

Filed under: Art, Esoteria, Human Interest, mp3, , , , ,

FAST RAM, or “Ram” on 45

Download the mp3 – Paul and Linda McCartney: “Ram” on 45, Side A

A little over a year ago, the blog Aquarium Drunkard released a record called Ram On LA, a “Los Angeles Music Sampler” that featured bands like Earlimart, the Parson Redheads, and Le Switch covering tracks from Paul and Linda McCartney’s 1971 album Ram. I originally heard about the record from my neighbor Scott, and I appreciate the concept for a couple of reasons. The first reason is that Paul is my favorite member of the Beatles, but I don’t think he normally gets the respect he deserves. Thus, I’m glad to see him get a tribute. The other reason I’m down with record is that Ram (at least side A) is one of my favorite albums. It’s cool to realize that I, in my taste at least, keep such illustrious company!

Yet, while Ram is one of my favorite albums, I absolutely never listen to the record as originally intended. I got the mp3s of it once, and I tried to jam to them in the car. I hated them, though – they seemed so listless and lacking in energy.

See, my Ram isn’t like that.

I bought the record in the mid 2000s at Amoeba for a dollar. It was during a phase in my life wherein I bought a whole lot of records at Amoeba for a dollar and didn’t necessarily listen to them until months after the purchase. Ram was one of those records that I bought and shelved for some potential later date.

At the time I was living in a very full house with Pizza!, and we shared vinyl. While I apparently was only nominally interested in Ram, Alex found it on the shelf and decided to give it a spin. The turntable was on 45 when he did, and for some reason he didn’t notice. He accidentally played the record at the faster speed – and loved it!

After falling in love with the fast version of Ram, Alex played it for us. We all agreed that it was incredible. I, personally, was hooked.

I’ve listened to Ram on 45 a whole lot, but I’ve barely listened to it on 33. And while my initial love affair with it was a few years ago, I’ve gotten back into it pretty hard lately. Coincidentally, the other day it was the topic of conversation at a party; fortunately it was a party with a turntable and a copy of Ram. My friend Kyle S said that he had a natural aversion to things that sounded “chipmunky” because of some bad experiences with Christmas records when he was a kid. My buddy Dan C proposed that people in the era of Ram were so drugged-out that slow music appealed to them more, and he used Paul’s own “Helter Skelter” as an example. Both of them really dug Ram when it was played fast. Kyle even said that he wasn’t that interested in listening to the record at 33. I nodded my head to that. Ram on 33 sucks compared to Ram on 45!

Increasing the speed on Ram does, I must admit, “chipmunk” it. But what’s lost in low-end is more than compensated for by the gain in sheer passion, danceability, and drive. Paul and Linda made the record while on vacation on a farm in Scotland, and unsurprisingly it’s a bit sluggish in execution. Perhaps because of that, speeding it up by a few revolutions per minute really doesn’t make it that fast – especially not for me, as a listener almost forty years later with new context and ears for punk rock. The extra kick makes the songs more compelling, I think. There’s an added element of joy in songs like “Dear Boy” (which isn’t particularly happy at all when played at its original speed) and “Smile Away” (a song that is totally, completely, painfully, appallingly, and miserably boring on 33 but has a peculiar and jovial spring in its step on 45).

“Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” is truly and delightfully weird in any incarnation, and it’s even more delightful and weird on 45.

Anyway – after talking about Fast Ram at that party, I decided that I wanted to digitize it. I didn’t want to just listen to it at home, because I love it so much. And after digitizing it, I figured it was a good idea to share it – so here it is.

This is just Side A. I didn’t have time to do Side B, but I’ll do it in a few days if people are interested (NOTE: Side B was uploaded on May 14 and is available here). Honestly, I haven’t listened to Side B that much. But Side A is pretty much my favorite Beatles record… so there you go.

Paul and Linda McCartney: “Ram” on 45 – Side A

Buy the original version of Ram.

Filed under: Art, Esoteria, Features, Human Interest, mp3, Wonderful Christmas Music, , , , , ,

Flyer Collection

I have collected the flyers that I’ve made over the years for Pizza!, Big Whup, and my own solo shows. I put them onto Flickr. You can check out the set here. This is one of my favorite flyers from the collection. It’s from last year, not this year! This year basically the same lineup is playing on May 1 at the Smell, except with 60 Watt Kid and So Many Wizards instead of My Pet Saddle and the Studiofix:

You can click on it to go to the Flickr set.

Filed under: Art, Esoteria, , , , ,

Music

This is Soft Sailors! We're a new band from Los Angeles. We don't have any upcoming shows scheduled, but you can hear us online:

Also, here are some solo songs I've uploaded recently to Soundcloud. I'm playing solo July 19th at the Pickle Factory at 647 Lamar Street in Los Angeles and September 1st at Los Globos in LA for a KCHUNG benefit.

In 2011, I released my first solo album, Princess. You can listen to it and download it on Bandcamp:

From 2005 until 2011, I was in the band Pizza! This is our album We Come From the Swamp:

From 2008-2010, I was in the band Big Whup. Here's one of our songs that I sang, called "Cover My Eyes:"

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